Adaptability and Flexibility: Keys to IRI India’s Success

27 September 2020

An Interview with Captain Sanjay Maini, Country Head – India

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic undoubtedly presents challenges that require unique solutions. COVID-19 restrictions worldwide have made crew changes and repatriation exceedingly complex. With different authorities spanning multiple jurisdictions the situation becomes even more difficult. Captain Sanjay Maini, Country Head – India explains the situation in this recent interview:

We were called in to assist when foreign seafarers were unable to sign off from Indian ports even when it was on medical grounds. No doubt facilitating these changes needed extra effort and creative solutions in light of COVID-19. The Mumbai team was able to assist our clients with our constant discussion and engagement with Indian authorities, who have been very proactive in problem solving.

As Indian seafarers comprise a large portion of the world’s seafarers, the Mumbai office processes a significant number of seafarer documentation requests each year, generally around 60,000 documents.

With the complete nationwide lockdown from late March of this year, it was a challenge to keep up with the demand, because the production of seafarer documents cannot be done while working from home. Our office had to look for solutions to process documentation quickly, while complying with local government guidelines. Initially, we were limited to three people in the office at a given time and gradually as the restrictions were relaxed we were able to increase this to eight team members. As soon as chartered flights were allowed for seafarer changes, the application requests into the Mumbai office multiplied. We had to improvise and distribute work so that our resources could contribute to seafarer document production irrespective of whether they were working from home or from the office. The fact that from June to August 10,464 documents were produced is testimony to the hard work and planning our team has done to create unique solutions.

Captain Maini addressed the technical and marine safety services of the Mumbai office as well.

With shipboard attendance being nearly impossible due to COVID-19, our Technical and Marine Safety services also needed alternative solutions as periodical surveys, inspections, and audit schedules were significantly impacted.  With technical management of approximately 200 vessels being handled by offices in India the challenge of conducting these surveys was evident. Thanks to our decentralized operations we were just a call away for regional shipmanagers, and as a result, our commitment to our clients to provide quality services never changed. With our Fleet Operations Manager, R. Vinod Kumar working closely with shipowners/managers and Recognized Organizations, we were determined to see that ships’ statutory requirements were and continue to be met. Be it reviewing and authorizing remote surveys/audits or remote inspections, the Administrator was innovative in its service delivery.

We were quick to recognize the need to adapt to the new normal and will continue to innovate and change as needed.